how-businesses-can-survive-the-digital-evolutionAs another one of our strategy sessions moved off topic into a discussion of the philosophical implications of the digital world and ultimately the fate of human nature (we get deep at Synecore), my colleague Horton and I moved into a discussion of the future of education, including MOOCs (massive open online courses). He directed me towards sites like Coursera, edX, Udacity and, just… #mindblown.

Get Online and Learn

While many MOOCs began just a couple of years ago – edX, founded by MIT and Harvard in 2012 and Udacity, founded by Sebastian Thrun in 2012 – they have welcomed millions of online learners and unearthed enormous debate about the future of education. University agendas aside, one can’t argue how cool this is. I can imagine late nights and Saturday afternoons learning about the history of the solar system and Renaissance art…

Or is that just the forever-nerd inside me talking?

Even if you didn’t love school, with the constant threat of grades or the in-your-face teachers looming around, I’m sure there are some topics that you’ve always been interested in. MOOC offers this to you, for free, without all the other crap that came with your education (seriously, no braces, no horrific picture days, no popular kid table).

These new online education platforms allow you to (and frankly give you no excuse not to) be a lifelong learner, which is exactly what the digital evolution will require of us. Knowledge of computer science and coding, among other things, promises to bring us into the digital era with less angst and more excitement.

Opportunity for Businesses

The MOOC movement is also a golden opportunity for businesses, as owners begin to realize that their companies must adapt to today’s digital environment or risk being left behind. The mentality of adaption is nothing new; it’s a common refrain echoed throughout human history, from Darwin to H.G. Wells. Wells knew well (sorry) what he was talking about when he said, “to adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”

What You Can Do

To keep up with changes in technology, which seem to be coming faster and faster, you need a team that is not just smart and sharp but also willing to accept the inherent chaos of constant change. You need people who are going to continue to navigate your brand through a crowded digital landscape filled with business after business fighting a war of pixels, #hashtags and data in an alternative reality on a geo-targeted Cloud.

You have two choices: You can hate the digital evolution for forcing you to adapt, or you can take advantage of the solutions placed at your fingertips – solutions like the online knowledge centers Udacity and Coursera. Think what a wonderful resource they could be for your employees. How can you leverage them to build a team that is constantly thinking and learning?

Imagine a program where your company requires employees to use MOOCs to continue to advance their skill set. Yes, you could go the traditional route of sending your employees back to school for an advanced degree, but think of how many more employees you could continue to educate given the easy accessibility and low-investment of these online education platforms?

The Takeaway

There is no excuse for “I don’t know” anymore. The world of information is at our fingertips, and those who survive the digital evolution will be the ones who learn how to use its tools to improve themselves and their organizations. As the changes compound around us, it will be the minds who learn and make connections in our connected, integrated world who will thrive.

So, although the nostalgic old soul inside me would love to send you off with a paperback book somewhere, the digital marketer in me is inclined to encourage you to take advantage of all the digital resources awaiting you and just go learn something.